ClockFriday, 16/02/2024 08:27

Tet of Overseas Vietnamese

TTH.VN - As the Tet holiday approaches, many Vietnamese people living far from their homeland still feel the eager atmosphere. Some feel excited when returning to their homeland, while many families enjoy celebrating Vietnamese Tet in foreign lands.

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Many overseas Vietnamese return home to enjoy the taste of their homeland

Enjoying the taste of home

This is the second time Mr. Tran Van Quang, a Vietnamese-American from Phong Hai commune, Phong Dien district, has brought his family back to celebrate Tet in his hometown. Mr. Quang said that despite living abroad, he always keeps track of the changes in his homeland. Compared to his return nearly 10 years ago, this time he was surprised by the "new look" of the land where he was born. "I didn't expect Phong Hai's roads to be so clean and beautiful. Some streets are paved with asphalt, with sidewalks. On both sides of the road are solid, grand houses," Mr. Quang said.

Revisiting memories from decades ago, when Mr. Quang was still living in his homeland, images of hardship come to mind for this over 50-year-old overseas Vietnamese. There were dilapidated houses, muddy dirt roads every rainy season. Especially, the lives of many people were hand-to-mouth. "Nowadays, people not only eat well but also dress nicely, and their intellect has improved. I heard that the commune is about to be upgraded to an urban ward," Mr. Quang chuckled. Returning home for Tet, many overseas Vietnamese not only want to enjoy the taste of their homeland but also want to contribute to easing the difficulties of their less fortunate fellow countrymen and participate in building their homeland.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, like many others, Mr. Ho Huu Trong (a Vietnamese-American) also faced difficulties when his economy stalled. He lost his job. Now, after several years of economic recovery, Mr. Trong has found a new job with higher income. Returning home for Tet, he does not forget to share his love with poor people in his hometown who are still struggling. Mr. Trong said that although he could not help all the poor, ease the lifelong burdens of his fellow countrymen, the gifts during Tet would make them feel warmer and give them more determination to rise up in life. "I have experienced hardship myself so I understand it very well. Nobody wants to be poor or suffer from it, but circumstances make many people unlucky. This time, I want to share a little bit of my heart with the people here, to give them motivation, to have more faith in life," Mr. Trong said.

For Ms. Phan Thi Hang (an Vietnamese living in Finland, originally from Dien Hoa commune, Phong Dien), having the opportunity to return to her hometown is a blessing. For livelihood, she had to be away from her family. "It's been a long time since I lit incense on the ancestral altar on New Year's Eve; had the opportunity to visit the graves with my family; sat by the fire making chung cakes, chatting with my parents during Tet," Ms. Hang confided.

As Tet approaches, in the hearts of Vietnamese sons and daughters living far from home, everyone wants to return to their homeland to celebrate Tet joyfully. However, not everyone has the means or the luck to return to reunite with their families during these traditional Tet days. "Due to busy work schedule, I couldn't return home to celebrate Tet with my family as usual. This year, the chung cakes sent by my parents make my family feel very warm," Ms. Le Thi Na (a resident of Loc Bon commune, Phu Loc district, living in Laos) shared.

 In the US, many Overseas Vietnamese eagerly await the traditional Tet of the nation. Photo: Provided by the author

Warmth in distant lands

For those who cannot return to their hometowns for Tet, in those distant lands, they still go to the pagoda to pray, make chung and tet cakes, wear traditional ao dai to go out for spring outings. Each person celebrates Tet in their own way. Mr. Le Van Quoc, originally from Hue, has been living in the Netherlands for nearly 10 years, said that although the Vietnamese community where he lives is small, Tet activities are still warm and complete.

On the first day of the lunar New Year, Mr. Quoc's family wears traditional ao dai, goes to the pagoda to pray for peace, goes out for spring outings, and enjoys traditional Vietnamese dishes. "In the festive atmosphere of the new year, my family also wakes up early to welcome New Year's Eve, inviting European friends to experience Vietnamese Tet to understand more about the culture of Vietnam," Mr. Quoc shared.

In the US, the Vietnamese community mainly resides in California, Texas, and the state of Washington. For many years, traditional Vietnamese Tet activities have become familiar. Mr. Nguyen Van Chuong, a Vietnamese-American living in California, surely cannot forget the bustling atmosphere when Tet arrives. A few years ago, he still enjoyed the taste of Tet right in his homeland. The customs and traditions of Tet celebration among Vietnamese have deeply ingrained in his subconscious.

Coming to the US, reuniting, living with family, Mr. Chuong does not forget to celebrate Vietnamese Tet. He decided to take a 3-day Tet break to take his family to the spring market, have fun, and celebrate Tet. "In the US, the Vietnamese community celebrates Tet just as enthusiastically as in Vietnam. Besides spring outings, watching unicorn dances, or enjoying lively fireworks displays, many families make chung and tet cakes; decorate their homes with yellow apricot and peach blossoms just like in Vietnam," Mr. Chuong shared.

According to Mr. Chuong, Tet Nguyen Dan is one of the biggest and most important festivals for Vietnamese people in the US. This is an opportunity for Vietnamese people to gather, reunite, and wish for a safe and prosperous new year. "In California, the Vietnamese community is very large, so Tet Nguyen Dan has become a popular festival in the US. Many customs such as giving lucky money, welcoming the New Year, going to the pagoda at the beginning of the year are preserved by Vietnamese people when they come to the US," Mr. Chuong said.

In faraway places, although celebrating Tet cannot be as complete as in their homeland, the well wishes of everyone in the new year make the Vietnamese community even warmer. "Not only me but many Vietnamese people in the US still feel like they are returning to celebrate Tet in their homeland. We visit each other during Tet, chat, reminisce about past Tet seasons, from which, we pass on the fire to future generations, helping the young generation in the US never forget Vietnamese Tet," Mr. Chuong expressed.

Story and photo: LE THO
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